While Don “JD” Wise is well known for his unique acrylic-on-canvas paintings featuring fun and jazzy musical instruments, his road to becoming an artist has taken a very circuitous path. His first painting was at the age of 16 and won a Scholastic Award for the state of Florida, where he was living at the time.
“I had to take an art class and the teacher made me do a painting,” he says. “I did one of my trumpet, and she entered it for the award without me even knowing.”
When his father told him there wasn’t any money in art, he put it on the back burner. “I went into music, where there was even less money, but I wanted to be a great trumpet player. I became the first American in a Cuban salsa band in the United States.”
Through the years, JD has worked in orchestra production, spent time as a school band director, and become a very successful book publisher. Eventually, he found his way back to art. “I stopped painting in 1969 and picked it up 46 years later,” he says.
Today at the age of 71, his works can be found all over Tennessee. The Steinway Piano Gallery in Nashville has “Pure Nashville” and the “Big Band Series,” and the Nina Kuzina Gallery, also in Nashville, has “Jazz Trio,” “Selmer Soprano” and “Lyric Typewriter.” These are all available for purchase. Belmont University is also working with him to feature his art in their music buildings.
“When I hear music, I see art and when I see art, I hear music,” he says. “For example, ‘Field of Strings’ is a very detailed painting. I wanted it to be a symphony.”
JD and his wife, Chris, have lived in Franklin for 21 years, but his roots have been in Miami since the 1960s. “So my style is a bit ‘South Beach’ and brightly colored.” JDWiseArt.com